LIMA, Peru — Prosecutors said Thursday they have opened an investigation into the death of a Peruvian transgender man who died this month after being detained on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali.
Peru’s Public Ministry said the probe by prosecutors who specialize in human rights will include an autopsy on Rodrigo Ventocilla, which had been demanded by LGBTQ activists amid allegations by the man’s family that he was tortured by Indonesian police.
The Indonesian authorities have refuted these claims and said Ventocilla had not been abused or neglected. He died in hospital August 11th, after suffering stomach pains while detained and showing signs that he was experiencing depression.
Peruvian officials said the investigation will look into allegations that Ventocilla suffered torture at the hands of two police officers and that Peru’s consul in Jakarta did not perform his duties in protecting Ventocilla. The investigation will also study allegations that Ventocilla’s Peruvian husband, Sebastián Marallanod, was tortured.
Julio Arbizu, a lawyer for Ventocilla’s family, said the investigation follows a complaint of torture that the family filed this week with the human rights prosecutor’s office.
Peru is able to assert its jurisdiction in cases of alleged torture regardless of whether it took place in another country. Peru and Indonesia join more than 150 other countries to have signed The United Nations Convention against Torture.
Ventocilla, a 32-year-old graduate student at Harvard University, was detained Aug. 6 at the island’s airport after arriving on his honeymoon with Marallano. Marallano also was detained after attempting to help Ventocilla.
Authorities said Ventocilla’s body had left Indonesia and was scheduled to arrive in Lima on Friday.
Luzmo Henríquez, a representative of the family of the deceased, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that relatives believe he died as a result of torture.
“He was detained because of his gender identity. His identification document didn’t match his appearance. This made him suspect to the Indonesian police. He was extorted, tortured and has died,” Henríquez said.
The Indonesian authorities reject any form of violence or discrimination. “Everything went according to standard operation,” Stefanus Satake Bayu Setianto, a Bali police spokesperson, said Monday.
Indonesian officials claim that customs officers located a packet of Ventocilla brownies, which they suspect might have contained cannabis. They turned the man over to police. According to official reports, Ventocilla was brought to the hospital in the early hours of August 9.
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